Cracker Plant Would Not Be Good for Area

Please, wake up, people!

The new cracker plant proposed for our area will bring grave harm to our beautiful, rolling-hills community — and not many local, full-time jobs.

An ethane cracker takes ethane, a component of natural gas found in abundance in the Marcellus shale, and processes it — or “cracks’ it — into ethylene. It does this by heating the ethane up so hot that it breaks apart the molecular bonds holding it together.

The fact that the process is dirty and dangerous, and that without impossibly strong safeguards in place (until its too late) the facility will become a new threat to our air and water.

The plan to build a cracker facility in the Upper Ohio Valley has been heralded as a savior for this low-income area. Is it really? According to Adam Ruznik writing (Nov. 15, 2016) in connection with Beaver County’s Shell Cracker plant “Cracking Down on Shell’s Cracker Plant”: “The Pennsylvania state, county, and municipal governments have rolled out the red carpet with minimal requirements for site remediation, and piecemeal permitting process. This all seems to ignore the fact that without strong safeguards in place the facility could become a new threat to our air and water.”

“Our area is already identified as having some of the worst air quality in the nation. The cracker plant will add significant pollution to this already vulnerable region by emitting large amounts of Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which have been known to cause increased cancer rates, birth defects, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory conditions. Beyond that, we’ll see increased gas drilling activity in order to feed the cracker plant’s demands.

“The plant will discharge a variety of toxic pollutants like oil, benzene, and phthalates into the Ohio River, which is already designated as most polluted in the United States. In addition, existing contamination from lead, arsenic, and other pollutants at the site is pervasive and impacts the soil and groundwater.”

And do you know what ethylene is used for? Plastics! From toys to water bottles, we’re all surrounded by dangerous plastics. Plastic pollution involves the accumulation of plastic products in the environment that adversely affects wildlife, wildlife habitat, or humans.

Plastic pollution can unfavorably affect lands, waterways –already overwhelmed — and oceans. Living organisms, particularly marine animals, can also be affected through entanglement, direct ingestion of plastic waste, or through exposure to chemicals within plastics that cause interruptions in biological functions. Humans are affected by plastic pollution in way too many ways to be accounted for here.

We don’t want this very dangerous cracker plant polluting our great community or having us help destroy the world’s environment by producing an enormous increase in plastic.

What we want is a plant to produce wind mills and solar panels that produce “clean, healthful energy” and great local, full-time jobs.

Bill Bryant

St. Clairsville